The Namibian (Windhoek)

Namibia: Govt Policy the Topic At Swapo Dinner

THE controversial N$100 000 dinner that was recently held at State House was aimed at giving a selected group of businesspeople an opportunity to influence government policies ahead of the Swapo congress, The Namibian can reveal.

According to information seen by The Namibian, the hand-picked business leaders were invited with a promise that they could mingle and chat to their leaders about economic policies that are going to be endorsed at the end of this month.

Leon Jooste, a businessman and former deputy minister, had written to the select group telling them the "intimate dinner" would be used to "discuss draft policiesÂ" that came from the Swapo policy conference held in September.

Jooste reminded the invited few that these draft policies would be endorsed by the congress as formal Swapo policies, which would form the basis of future government plans.

He described it as a "kind gesture" that the Swapo 'top four' extended to the select group to make an input before the policies reach the congress.

The Swapo congress will be held from November 29 to December 2 in Windhoek.

The details of the dinner emerged amid spirited denials by the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Joel Kaapanda, that those invited had to pay a minimum of N$100 000 and that it was linked to the upcoming Swapo congress.

Kaapanda claimed it was President Hifikepunye Pohambas "private affair" at his official residence (State House), despite information to the contrary.

The Swapo top four are President Pohamba, vice president Hage Geingob, secretary general Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana and deputy secretary general Nangolo Mbumba. Jooste last week confirmed the dinner to The Namibian, saying about 20 of the targeted 50 businesspeople attended and that it was aimed at raising money for the congress. People like Knowledge Katti (who pledged N$500 000) and Desmond Amunyela said they attended the dinner.

Some sources claimed those who pledged donations would be invited as special guests to the Swapo congress, although this could not be confirmed.

Jooste this week declined to comment on the latest information that Swapo draft policies were the drawcard for the dinner.

He offered to speak to The Namibian only after the congress.

"There was nothing controversial about the event. We have decided that all questions should be forwarded to Minister Kaapanda," Jooste said.

He would also not provide details about what the funds will be used for.

Kaapanda declined to tell The Namibian yesterday whether the dinner was aimed at discussing policies.

"It does not matter. The President is not obliged to tell people about his activities," he said.

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